Dear Wornick Community,
As many of you know, the state and county health departments recently announced a shift in masking guidance. San Mateo County still recommends masking in schools but no longer requires it. After careful consideration, our health and safety committee has decided to follow San Mateo County Guidance effective March 21. This means that students and professionals who choose not to wear a mask indoors may remove their masks with some conditions (detailed below).
Our school’s decision was based on a number of factors, including:
- Wornick’s high student vaccination rates (~90%)
- Our effective policies keeping symptomatic students out of school and maintaining a healthy environment
- Low case rates nationally and locally,
- The significant benefit we feel unmasking provides our students socially, developmentally, and educationally outweighs the previous need for masks given the reduced risk of transmission and general mildness of cases
All of these reasons provide us with the opportunity to begin the difficult task of socializing the concept of unmasking indoors.
Continued Weekly Testing and Safety Protocols
We will continue to test our community weekly during this transition as an added layer of protection. All other safety protocols remain in place as well.
Though the county does not recommend contact tracing any longer, our school will continue reporting to each grade level if there is a positive case in the class and offer the opportunity for increased testing. Our health and safety committee wanted to emphasize that there may be positive cases and that should not be viewed as a failure as we move into a phase of living with Covid.
When Indoor Masking Will Be Required
Students will need to remain masked indoors in a number of circumstances:
- We will allow two classes to be in the Ulam for Tefillah; those students will wear a mask during that time,
- When students are 48 hours post-symptoms but have a negative test and have returned to school, those students will wear masks while they still have resolving symptoms,
- When there is an exposure in a class we will no longer be following the “modified quarantine guidelines” for unvaccinated students. Our understanding of the county guidelines are that unvaccinated students who are in an unmasked environment are not eligible for a modified quarantine. This means that unvaccinated students will need to learn remotely for five days following an exposure at school and remain masked for the following five days upon returning (assuming they produce a negative test result).
- When vaccinated students have had an exposure to someone who has tested positive and have produced a negative test, those students will wear a mask for 5 days. Unvaccinated students who have an unmasked exposure to a positive person must quarantine for 5 days per CDPH guidelines.
- After air travel, vaccinated students will need to remain masked indoors for five days. Following CDC guidelines unvaccinated students will need to quarantine for five days after air travel and need to produce a negative test between days 3-5.
- Guests on campus who come indoors during school hours will remain masked.
Our health and safety committee also wanted to communicate that we reserve the right to require masks indoors (and potentially outdoors as well), if case rates increase significantly or if our understanding of transmission shifts.
Partnership & Respect
As we saw when we allowed students to unmask outdoors, a significant number of students and professionals will likely continue to keep their masks on. We know that some will unmask outdoors and mask indoors or choose to mask in certain settings. We are announcing this change in policy 10 days ahead of the change to give you each time to speak to your students about your family choice. We have a diverse community of opinions and beliefs about health and safety and we will respect the individual choices our students make. We will speak with each class about respecting individual choices and about the dignity of each student. Of course, please communicate with your teachers and copy firstname.lastname@example.org if you want your student to remain masked.
Our school counselor and director of learning support will be working with our teachers and students to support this transition. We recommend having a conversation with your students about this change before March 21. Here is a wonderful resource around unmasking in schools. We also ask that you speak with your students about respecting other students' choices about keeping masks on or unmasking.